Moments of Sense and Style

Moments of Sense and Style

In a digital age where we’re flooded daily with words, stories, and great hunks of content to digest, it’s not often an article can make you stop and think rather than swipe away. Syreeta Challinger’s ‘The Moment That Made Me’ for October’s Glamour Magazine did just that.

Syreeta’s tale begins in Sydney, Australia on the second night of a holiday back in 2014. She was 5,000 miles away from their Hong Kong home and laying next to her partner who had suffered a terrifying and near fatal brain haemorrhage, which then triggered a stroke. She had awoken to Rob staggering and screaming, clutching his head in agony before having a seizure and vomiting. He was 37.

What followed was a painful and unimaginably difficult set of circumstances; after intensive surgery, Rob was brought out of his coma unable to speak and with right side paralysis. He had to relearn fundamental life skills such as eating solid food and swallowing and needed assistance getting dressed.

Syreeta and Rob had built exciting and high profile careers; she a product development manager in fashion, he a brand agency director. Urban nomads, they travelled globally and frequently and enjoyed an active and creative life. In the blink of a moment, their lives were turned upside down in the most brutal of ways.

Leaving Sydney after three months, they returned to Rob’s home town of Lincoln to continue with his significant recovery. Syreeta commuted into London with the aim of preserving a connection to their former life, but it became evident that Rob’s recovery was impacted by her absence so she resigned and became his full time carer. 2016 was difficult and isolating, but while sorting through some possessions, Syreeta stumbled upon an old sketchbook where an idea they had for a concept store named Moments of Sense & Style (MOSS) sat patiently waiting.

She began working on the MOSS plan and brainstorming product ideas – like patterned notebooks, candles and art and carefully considered how her and Rob’s harrowing story could be reflected in their craft. 

Gradually, it came beautifully together. Born from a desire to create light out of the darkness, it became a stylish concept store with an innovative and conceptual approach to dealing with life changing events. Each scent of each candle is integral to the remarkable brand story. Syreeta’s main job is carer to Rob, who thankfully has made remarkable progress in the circumstances and helps with MOSS product design.

There is so much to take away from Syreeta and Rob’s horrific story. The importance of enjoying life when it is good, as we never truly know what’s around the corner. How acts of complete and utter selflessness, showing courage and strength during the most testing times and temporarily putting your life on hold for the person you love are the real Stories we should be sharing on social media.

We applaud both Syreeta and Rob and covert their considered design, high-quality products. This is accessible luxury with meaning and a reminder that creativity really can heal.

As Syreeta wisely reminds us ‘‘Play the cards you’ve been dealt, as best you can’.

WEBSITE – https://www.momentsofsenseandstyle.com/

INSTAGRAM – https://www.instagram.com/momentsofsenseandstyle/ 

TWITTER – https://twitter.com/moments_hello 

FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/momentsofsenseandstyle/

Getting Dressed for Success –  Women’s Charity Smart Works

Getting Dressed for Success – Women’s Charity Smart Works

At Leila and Geoffrey we support artists, charities and creative businesses and love to champion social enterprises that really make an impact. 

Like Smart Works, a UK charity that dresses and coaches women for interview success. 

Choosing what to wear for a job interview is a critical element of the overall preparation. While ultimately your skills, capability and experience should be the key factors to drive success, undoubtedly what you wear can also influence a panel’s decision. But what if you don’t have access to a killer wardrobe, are on a low-income or your confidence is depleted after being out of work for some time?

That’s where Smart Works comes in. They exist to help unemployed women into work, by developing their interview skills and providing them with professional clothes to boost their confidence. The charity welcomes any woman who needs their service, has a job interview secured and who has been referred by one of the hundreds of organisations they partner with including the local Job Centre PlusCentrepoint and Solace. 

At one of their six locations across the UK and with the help of 250 trained volunteers, women can enjoy a focused two-hour session with the Smart Works power team, comprised of two elements; (1) clothing advice and expertise from highly skilled and trained stylists and (2) interview advice from senior managers, HR professionals and executive coaches. 

At the end of the session, Smart Works clients get a complete outfit of clothes and accessories to keep and interview training to help them believe in their ability to succeed. If they bag that dream job, they can come back for more clothing to see them through to their first pay cheque. The clothes are high-quality and donated by other working women, high profile fashion labels and leading retailers including WhistlesEvans and Hobbs.

Patrons include fashion designer Betty Jackson CBE, comedian, writer and producer Jennifer Saunders and leading fashion retail figure Jane Shepherdson MBE. Charity Ambassadors include Barclays Director Caroline Graham, brand and image consultant / The Telegraph columnist Isabel Spearman and Samantha Cameron, Founder and Creative Director of contemporary womenswear label Cefinn, all bringing their unique drive, passion and style to the table.

It’s not just the team that are impressive, the statistics are too. Smart Works dressed over 2,800 women in 2016 in stylish, high-quality clothes and over 1 in 2 women get the job after using its service, with half the charity’s clients finding employment within one month. They were winners in the social care, advice and support category at the Charity Awards 2017 who rewarded their efforts in cross-partner working, addressing diversity and inequality issues and helping women from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Smart Works helps women to feel confident, look fabulous, succeed at their job interview and move on with their life. The charity is on a mission to grow across the country and increase its reach to women who really need them. 

Women look in the mirror and see hope and potential; they see themselves again. It’s simple, practical and empowering and here at Leila and Geoffrey we wish them all the very best.

WEBSITE – http://smartworks.org.uk/

INSTAGRAM – https://www.instagram.com/smartworkscharity/

FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/smartworkscharity/